Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer in a Cup (Blueberry Green Tea)

Tea is quite possibly one of my favorite things on this earth. I love it hot or cold, but in the summer when the sun is beating on your back and glaring in your eyes, iced tea can be the most perfect thing you ever asked for. Especially the one I have down below!
Usually, I prefer my tea unsweetened but there's a certain kind of 'Asian style' tea that I just obsess over. It's super popular here in the southern parts of California and is filled with all kinds of treats such as chopped fruit and chewy tapioca balls (aka boba). I LOVE boba; it's chewy and like candy in your drink! Some people, I know, find the texture quite odd but if you haven't tried it before, give it a chance and you might find a new obsession.
This tea is perfection. It's like the tea I can find at my local Asian milk tea shops but now I can have it anytime I want it. The recipe is simple enough and it's really just a matter of assembling everything together. And if you don't like boba, or can't find the ingredients, the blueberry iced tea without the optional add ins are more than enough to keep your thirst quenched! Mmmmm summer and a glass of ice cold tea; it really doesn't get better than this.
Blueberry Green Tea with Add Ins (Asian style or not)
Yields: 6 - 8 servings
Syrup recipe from here.

For the syrup:
1 cup blueberries
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

6 cups water
3 - 4 tbsn. or 3 - 4 tea bags of green tea (I used peach green tea!)
1 package of large tapioca pearls/ boba (optional)
1/2 can of canned lychees, chopped (optional)
1/2 jar of coconut jelly or nata de coco, chopped (optional)

To make the syrup, add the blueberries, water and sugar into a large saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Boil until the blueberries burst and release their juices. Remove from heat. Use a spatula to slightly crush the berries against the sides of the pan. Strain the berries from the syrup with a colander.

You can brew the tea in two ways: hot or cold. To brew it hot, bring the water to just under a boil. Add the tea/ tea bags and let steep for 3 - 5 minutes, then cool in refrigerator until completely cooled. To brew cold, combine the water and the tea/ tea bags and let steep in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours (you don't have to worry about over steeping with cold brewing).

Prepare the tapioca pearls/ boba according to the package, then drain and set aside. To assemble, add enough of the blueberry simple syrup to the green tea until it is is just sweet enough and has enough berry flavor to your taste. If you want it 'Asian style', to assemble the individual drinks, add 2 tbsn. of boba, 2 tbsn. of chopped lychee, and 2 tbsn. of chopped coconut jelly into each serving glass. Add some ice, then top with the blueberry green tea. Drink with a large 'boba' straw!

Tailored Tuedays

Wonderfully classy.
1. Oscar de la Renta "Cashmere crochet cardigan"
2. Oscar de la Renta "Cotton strapless dress"
3. Christian Louboutin "Spartenvol strass 100 sandals"
4. Oscar de la Renta "Double buckle belt"

all images can be found at net-a-porter.com

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Peach Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting

I think peaches have to be the ultimate summer fruit. Every time I think of a sweet, juicy, fuzzy peach it makes me think of sunshine, rainbows and happy, carefree days. These cupcakes live up to the same standards as the peaches they were made from, and are jam-packed with all kinds of tastiness.
Once I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen, I bookmarked it immediately. First of all, peach cupcakes? Sold. It had me at hello. Plus, cream cheese frosting with brown sugar in it?! I had never heard of such a thing, but since brown sugar is one of my first loves, I knew it had to be one of the best things on the planet, and guess what? It was.

These cupcakes are beyond amazing. The cake is nice and moist and has great flavor while the frosting is seriously out of this world, especially if you have a hankering for brown sugar. The only strife I have is probably that the peach flavor isn't prominent enough. Actually, my friends said if they didn't already know it was peach they wouldn't have guessed it but that they were so delicious anyway, they could care less. I think that's a win if I ever did see one.

Peach Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting
Yields: 12 - 14 cupcakes
Original recipe here.

For the cake:
1 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
pinch of nutmeg
6 tbsn. unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 + 1/8 cup sugar
1/4 + 1/8 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cups buttermilk, sour cream or full-fat yogurt
2 medium peaches, peeled, cored, and chopped small-sh

For the frosting:
3/4 cups light brown sugar
1/8 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 8 oz. packages of cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a cupcake pan with liners and set aside. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg, set aside. Cream the butter and sugar together, beating until fluffy. Add the eggs, scraping down the sides and bottom after added. Then add the vanilla, and gently mix in the buttermilk/ sour cream/ yogurt. Stir in the dry ingredients and fold in the peach chunks. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tin, about 2/3 full. Bake for 18 - 22 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the tin then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

To make the frosting, in a small bowl whisk together the brown sugar, cornstarch and powdered sugar. In a large bowl, beat the butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Add the sugar-cornstarch mixture and vanilla, beat until frosting is smooth and light. Chill the bowl in the refrigerator until it thickens up a bit, about 30 minutes, then spread or dollop onto the cooled cupcakes.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tailored Tuesdays

Oh, how I heart red lipstick and J brands!

1. Linda Farrow Luxe 'Cat-eye frame snakeskin sunglasses'
2. Moschino Cheap & Chic 'Bow embellished wool sweater'
3. J Brand 'Mid rise cigarette leg jeans'
4. MAC lipstick in 'Red Russian'
My absolute favorite red lipstick!!
5. Lee Angel 'Desiree crystal and glass pearl cluster ring'
6. Christian Louboutin 'Big lips 120 calf hair pumps'

all images can be found at net-a-porter.com

Monday, June 21, 2010


I haven't posted music in SO long!

I've been meaning to, I even have an old draft with old music I wanted to post years ago (that's me being sarcastic)... I am such a lagger it is insane though. So to make up, here is a long compilation of both old & new music I've loved, love, and will love forever (I think).

Unfortunately, I can't post mp3s anymore because I got a warning the last time I did it. But I hope you do take the time to look some of these up through youtube or the hype machine, because I'm pretty much obsessed with these songs!

Monsieur Gainsbourg with Gonzales, Feist & Dani . Boomerang
The National . About Today
Regina Spektor . No Surprises (Radiohead Cover)
The Arcade Fire . Suburbs
The Helio Sequence . Lately
Copperpot . Art of Rap
BoB . I'll Be in the Sky
The Bird & The Bee . I Can't Go for That
Born Ruffians . Sole Brother
Deadmau5 . Not Exactly / Strobe (Club Mix)
Florence + The Machine . Swimming
Jonsi . Boy Lilikoi
Joy Orbison . BSRkRO1
Kardinal Offishall . Body Bounce ft. Akon
Keane . My Shadow
Lissie . Everywhere I Go
Mayer Hawthorne . Make Her Mine/ Maybe So, Maybe No
The Strokes . I'll Try Anything Once
Two Door Cinema Club . Something Good Can Work
NOTE: these are not my images, all images were found through google images.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Banana Whoopie Pies with Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting

Whoopie pies have become the latest trend. Actually, they were the latest trend half a year ago, so maybe not so trendy anymore but perhaps a staple? I really have no idea but I make things that appeal to me, no matter the trend. When I saw these little babies, I knew I had to make them. Bananas and Nutella have to be about the most classic combination ever and one of my absolute favorites.
These babies weren't hard to whip up at all, just a quick not-much-of-a-fuss batter and a simple cream cheese and Nutella filling. The cake tops were moist and full of banana flavor while the filling was creamy and oh-so-Nutella-y! Though these were delicious, the filling was a bit too sweet for my taste (although my friends loved them). I think next time I will try it with less powdered sugar but I added the full amount for fear of the filling being too runny. Also, the cake tops are quite moist so you pretty much should eat these right away as they attach to any surface you put them on. I recommend separating each with some tissue paper or parchment paper.
Banana Whoopie Pies with Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting

Yields: about 20 mini whoopie pies

Original recipe here.

For the banana cakes:

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 cup mashed banans (1 large extra-ripe banana)

1/2 cup sour cream

1 stick butter, room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed lightly

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

For the nutella cream cheese frosting:

1/2 stick butter, room temperature, cut into cubes

8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature, cut into cubes

1/2 cup nutella

1 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 - 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat, set aside. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, soda, cinnamon and salt, set aside. In another small bowl, stir to combine the mashed bananas and sour cream, set aside. Beat the butter and sugars on medium high for about 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated. Add the banana mixture and flour to the butter mixture in two separate additions, alternating between wet and dry. Using a scoop or a piping bag fitted with a large tip, form small mounds on the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1 - 1 1/2 inches between each. Bake for 12 - 15 minutes and let cool before filling.

To make the frosting, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium high for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Beat in the nutella and vanilla until completely incorporated. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar until desired consistency, until stiff peaks are reached. Using a piping bag or spoon, spread a small amount of frosting onto the bottom half of the cakes, and top with another cookie. Roll in sprinkles, if desired. Keep refrigerated until serving.

Ready to bite into this thing!

Pretty little things:

Best Fish Tacos in Ensenada {Los Angeles, CA}

Ahh don't you love it when a restaurant is straight up, up front with you? You say "the best fish tacos," I believe you. I give you a try and you prove me wrong? Shame on you. I give you a try and you prove me right, well, that's an A+ in my book.
What I love about this place is how simple it is. A small hole-in-the-wall with two options: fish or shrimp. Toppings, you choose and you put on yourself at the salsa bar, which, mind you, has some great salsas (spicy pineapple, mango, etc.).

Enjoy with a nice cold bottle of Reed's ginger beer and that's a lunch folks.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Oinkster {Eagle Rock, CA}

After listening to my sister wax poetically about the joys of The Oinkster, I knew I had to try it one day. So that day came and here's what we had. Above, my friend got the veggie burger, being the vegetarian that she is. She said it was alright, and that there wasn't much texture; basically soft on soft on soft. The pulled pork sandwich is a pulled pork sandwich. It's pork, pork, pork and more pork! Stuffed to the brim with juicy, tasty pork.
I opted for the 1/2 chicken plate, which was served with rice, plantains and a delicious garlic sauce. The chicken was moist, the rice was tasty and the plantains were my favorite. But then again, I love plantains however and wherever. The garlic sauce though, deeee-licious!
Their piggy fries, though famed, did not wow me at all. I think I must have tried them on an off night because they were only slightly warm and the cheese wasn't even melted. It was just blah, but I'd be willing to give them one more shot.
The hands-down, BEST THING, about this place is the milkshakes! It's funny because this restaurant is so random, which I love. They feature classic burgers and fries, yet also have cuban food. Then they throw you for a loop and offer ube and horchata milkshakes. It's a literal melting pot of cultures here!

The ube, though delicious as it was, was not as ube-y as I wished it to be. The horchata, though, was AMAZING and utterly delicious. I could not stop drinking it, even though I was full beyond my wits.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tailored Tuesdays

I think absolutely perfect for the weather we've been having!

1. Vivienne Westwood Anglomania "Bagatelle cotton blouse"
2. Pringle of Scotland "Pink striped skirt"
3. Proenza Schouler "PS1 large crocodile satchel"
4. Rupert Sanderson "Leather t-bar sandal"
5. Roberto Cavalli "Large marble disc necklace"

all images can be found at net-a-porter.com

Phillipe's {Los Angeles, CA}

Phillipe's is one of those classic Los Angeles eateries. Everyone's heard of it, and almost everyone's eaten there, at least 2+ times! Well, because I'm not from LA, I hadn't heard of it and hadn't eaten there 2+ times.
After having my fair share of Phillipe's, I have to say, I really would like to eat here 2+ times in the future. I ordered the lamb sandwich, double dipped (aka both sides of the sandwich dipped in the au jus), with an iced tea and macaroni salad.
The lamb was tender beyond belief, letting you know that some good time was put into this sandwich. The bread was just lightly moistened on the inside but not soggy. I especially loved the hot mustard they offer, but be careful, it's hot - in the, shoot up straight the nostrils kind of way. Bonus: the iced tea is under a buck, just like the good ole days.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Graduation Celebration!

AH! I just graduated college, like literally a day ago! I'm happy, ecstatic, freaked out but mostly, I feel weird. It's just a weird feeling when you close one chapter of your life and are faced with the next, yet to be written...
These past four years have been filled with much goodness, fun, friends, family, adventures, failures, triumphs and more, and I couldn't have asked for anything else. I am so proud to say that I have finished my undergraduate career and am now on my way to new and exciting endeavors. Of course, I'll miss the time I had at UCI a lot, more than words can say, but for now, YIPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

My wonderful parents have supported me since the day I came into creation and I am so proud to say that I am their daughter. Even more wonderfully, they threw me a beautiful graduation celebration filled with family and friends! But of course, I had to bake a few things. Correction, by a few, I mean a whole lotta!

My sister & I enjoying our goodies (my dog Baba-ganoush with us on the right):
First on the list: Blue Velvet Cupcakes with Yellow Cream Cheese Frosting. Why blue and yellow you ask? Well UCI's colors are blue and yellow so I thought the choice was obvious :P

I have my tried and true red velvet recipe, but I decided to try a new one for this extravaganza. Although these were yummy, I still prefer my favorite one :)

Yields: 24 cupcakes
Original recipe here. Frosting recipe here.

Blue & Yellow Rice Krispies because well, we had rice krispies and marshmallows on hand and they are incredibly cute, if I do say so myself. Plus, who doesn't love rice krispies?
Smores Cookies. I will never, ever find a replacement for you. You are by far my favorite cookies on this planet earth and I had to, just HAD to make you! Mmmm graham based cookie dough filled with chocolate and topped with chewy, toasty marshmallows!

Baba & I with our wondrous spread:
My absolute favorite, or let me correct myself, EVERYONE's favorite were the mini fruit tarts. These are so incredibly easy: just bake some puff pastry dough, whisk up some easy-peasy custard and top with some fresh fruit. And though it takes you a second, it looks like a million bucks!

Mini Fruit Tarts
Yields: 18 mini tarts
Original recipe here.

1 package puff pastry, thawed
1 egg + 1 tbsn. water, beaten
1 bow of strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced
1 box of blueberries, washed
1 box of blackberries, washed
1 bow of raspberries, washed
2 kiwis, peeled and sliced
1 pomegranate, seeded

For the custard:
1 large box of vanilla pudding
1 1/4 cups WHOLE milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla or 1 vanilla bean, scraped

To make the custard, beat everything together until it starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Refrigerate until cool and thickens some more, about 1 hour. Remove the puff pastry from the package and place onto a lightly floured surface. Use a knife to cut each piece of puff pastry into 9 squares, yielding 18 in total. Use a fork to prick the surface all over each piece. Place the squares onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush each square with the egg wash and bake according to directions on the package, let cool completely. To assemble, spread about 2 - 3 tbsn. of custard onto each pastry and top with the fruit in however manner you wish. Enjoy!

For all of my family, and me especially, I asked my mom to make Che Thai which is a Vietnamese dessert that is filled with all kinds of Vietnamese canned fruits, jellies and such and served as a cold soup in a coconut milk-syrup mixture. It's my absolute favorite of Vietnamese desserts!

Che Thai/ Vietnamese Fruit in Coconut Milk
Yields: 10 - 15 servings

1 can grass jelly, cut into 1/2 inch dices
1 can mint jelly, cut into 1/2 inch dices
2 cans jackfruit, sliced and water reserved
1 can longan, roughly chopped and water reserved
1 can lychee, roughly chopped and water reserved
1 pomegranate, seeds removed and washed
1 jar toddy palm seed
1 jar coconut gel
1/2 can coconut milk, more or less

In a large bowl, combine the first eight ingredients, including their liquids from the cans. Add about half of the coconut milk and mix everything together. Add more according to your taste. Chill in the refrigerator until thoroughly chilled, about 3 hours. Serve cold and with ice if too sweet.
Sangria's always a good choice for parties. Not too overbearingly alcoholic and perfect for the summer, especially with all of that great fruit coming into season. This one is Bobby Flay's recipe and boy did it hit the spot. Sweet with a nice punch.

Bobby Flay's White Peach Sangria
Yields: 4 - 6 servings
Original recipe here.

1 bottle white wine (Spanish table wine)
3 oz. brandy
2 oz. triple sec
1 cup orange juice
1 cup pineapple juice
2 oz. simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar heated until dissolved, then cooled)
3 oz. white peach puree
fresh peaches, oranges and apples, sliced (I used peaches and blackberries)

Place all of the ingredients into a pitcher to mix. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 48 hours. Serve over ice.
For the kiddies we had Orange Rainbow Punch. Basically just orange juice, ginger ale and all of the fruit you can imagine dumped in! I used sliced oranges, blueberries, kiwi, strawberries and blackberries. It was like a fruit fiesta and so uberly refreshing.

And of course, had to have some of PW's Corn & Avocado salsa! It's perfect for summer and absolutely perfect for parties, so freaking delicious!
Of course, we had a bunch more food than that! My mom is the master at parties and provided a whole spread of delights which included crab stuffed mushrooms, Korean BBQ, rice pilaf with almonds, penne with feta and garlic shrimp and more. Mmmmm my stomach is grumbling from just thinking about it!